Would you rather go to Hawaii, or go to the corner and be in ecstasy?
This is a fascinating question that I heard on an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Conversations with author and spiritual teacher Michael Singer. Talking back and forth about being at peace and fulfillment, Singer posed this very simple, seemingly innocent but truly powerful question to the listeners, and it really made me stop and think.
When we ask this question, it forces us challenge a lot of resulting or related beliefs we have about how our lives should be, and what we need to accomplish.
It represents the desire that so many of us have to create external changes in our lives, believing that will make us happier.
There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to, and ultimately executing, on improving our external conditions.
The problem is, we think that will make us happy. We think that that's what we're after, like that's the end game.
Rarely do we ever stop to contemplate what it really is that we're after.
We want the boat, but for what? We want to go on more vacations, but why? What feelings our we chasing? What hole are we trying to fill?
Few people ever ask these questions, because we're so engrained to believe that achieving more things, doing more things, is going to give us fulfillment. Plus, it's scarier to ask those questions. It's hard. It's uncomfortable.
If I don't achieve the things I've always wanted, how could I ever be happy?! I've dreamt of all those things all my life. Of course they'll make me happy!
So in trying to answer this question, I do find part of myself wanting to answer with "Go to Hawaii," although by now I've learned enough to want pure ecstasy over that.
That's right. I'd rather sit in the corner at utter peace with myself, than to just be in an exotic location. Wherever we go, we will bring our miserable, or frustrated, or happy selves.
Whatever we are here, we will be there.
I don't understand how people don't get this. It's just so clear to me how happiness is an internal game, and has nothing to do with our environment.
I really don't get it.
That's why I believe the vast majority of people in the world today would rather go to an exotic, foreign location, rather than be wherever they are but in complete ecstasy.
It's because of our false belief that changing our external conditions will make us happier.
Maybe we need to rethink what happiness is. Maybe we ought to question our assumptions. To slow down just a bit and say:
Hey, ya know what, maybe I ought to spend some time thinking about what feelings I'm after, and how I could potentially feel those things right now if I tried.
It's okay to still want to go to Hawaii, but don't think it will make you any happier. Of course you'll enjoy it. Of course it'll be amazing, and potentially life-changing. I'm not denying that.
What I am denying is that you'll necessarily be fulfilled by going there. Barring any life changing experience, that rarely happens.
To be fulfilled, we have to go within. And there are so many good teachings and practices (yoga and meditation to name a few) that are gateways to the soul.
I will dive into these topics more in coming posts.
Live with substance!